If you are thinking about giving up alcohol, you may be among the more than 70 million adults in the United States with a drinking problem. Sooner or later the majority of people who drink a lot of booze consider saying “no alcohol”, or at least contemplate cutting way down on the amount they consume. Life can be enjoyable without any liquor in it. It can actually be a much better mode of living, depending on how well a person manages the changes and challenges required.
Giving Up Alcohol Can Be a Tall Order
“Quitting is easy…
I’ve done it 100’s of times”
Simply stopping drinking may not sound all that difficult. Some heavy drinkers have been known to put the “cork in the bottle” and never look back. They are, however, the exception to the rule.
The truth is you’re not really giving up something, as much as you are gaining self-control, better health and freedom.
The thought of having no alcohol for the rest of one’s life, seems “mind-boggling” to someone who loves to drink. Heavy drinkers and alcoholics often dream of controlling their drinking but seem to “freeze” at the scope of the concept. The thought of enjoying holidays, sporting events and parties without a drink for the rest of their life, seems impossible.
That’s right, alcohol is classified as a “depressant”. It slows breathing, reaction time, and relaxes the muscles. That means a person who has been drinking large amounts of booze has been taking a depressant type of drug for quite a while.
Alcoholism is now referred to as Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), and is considered a progressive brain disease by most experts. Heavy consumption of alcohol has a lot of negative side effects and ramifications whether someone actually has AUD or not.
The Definitive Guide to Quitting Alcohol
Here’s are 17 things which will increase the likelihood of successfully stopping drinking.
- Detox is Serious Business
Getting all the alcohol safely out of the body is the first vital step. Until then, your body will keep craving a drink. Believe it not, detoxing from alcohol can kill you. It needs to be done gradually, under the care of a doctor.
- Set a Quit Date
Setting a “quit date” allows you time to prepare yourself mentally, physically and emotionally. There are things to do like getting it all out of your home and anywhere else it might be stashed.
- Make a Commitment
There is magic in making an announcement. By telling those closet to you, you have made the decision to quit drinking, it makes it “official”.
- Enroll in a Treatment Program
A little counseling is a good thing. If you have never really tried to quit before, an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is a good idea. Relating with others who are going through the same process is a big help. If you have failed several times, consider a higher level of rehab.
- Avoid Bad Influences
“Nay Sayers” should be avoided. Your decision to quit will be seen as “threatening” by people still out there drinking. Some will try to convince you that you don’t have a problem and you should try some “controlled” drinking, stand your ground.
- Join a Support Group
There are a lot of misconceptions about Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). AA is basically full of the same types of people who used to love drinking, just like you. AA will provide a much needed support system. There are 20 million members of AA around the world, and they all want to see you succeed.
- Start New Activities
Time management is crucial. The time spent at bars, watching sports, happy hour, watching TV or just drinking alone needs to be filled up with something else. Exercise is always good, even if it’s going for a long walk. Reading is good because it keeps the mind occupied.
- Take it a Day at a Time
If a person doesn’t pick up the first drink today, they can make it for 24 hours without drinking liquor. Not drinking for 24 hours is doable. It is an achievable goal and a way to gauge sober time.
- Avoid “Triggers”
Triggers are things that made someone want to drink. There are certain events people tend to “drink at”, like getting upset or sad. They can also be certain types of foods like snacks or pizza. Make a list of things that made you drink, and be aware of them as red warning flags.
- Manage Cravings
During the first few days and weeks, there will be times when your body and mind “crave” a drink. This is a natural part of breaking a well-entrenched enjoyable habit. When they occur be aware of them and take action, like calling a trusted friend or going for a long walk or getting something good to eat.
- Build a Sober Network
Building a network of sober friends is important. There is safety in numbers. They can come out of the treatment program or support group. Making new sober friends and doing things together is a huge help.
- Don’t Get Discouraged
There will be times when you feel like it is not worth it. Your mind will try and convince you your drinking was not that bad and you can control it better next time. Don’t buy it. Take some kind of positive action immediately.
- Keep a Journal
Journaling is good because it gives you an opportunity to express your thoughts and feelings about what is going on inside your head. It is positive way of tracking how you’re doing at any given moment.
- Day Counting
Keeping track of the how many days it has been is a powerful way to reinforce your success. It makes it something tangible. Every day is another success and the days start to add up quickly.
- Reward Progress
Like any other achievement, rewarding your accomplishment is a way to reinforce the fact you have done something good. By going out with friends and celebrating the fact you haven’t drank in 2 weeks shows you can have fun without drinking and builds self-esteem.
- Enjoy the Benefits
Be sure and make note of the fact you have saved a bunch of money by not drinking. Measure the weight you lost and how much better you feel. Positive self-talk is an awesome tool.
- Avoid Non-Alcoholic Beverages
Non-alcoholic beverages contain a small amount of alcohol. The act of drinking a non-alcoholic beer is still drinking a beer. It can turning into a real “live” beer very easily.
Reasons People Drink
|To relax||To feel good|
|To relieve stress||To gain confidence|
|To get drunk||To numb emotions|
|To forget about problems||To drown sorrows|
|To reduce a hangover||To escape|
|To get a buzz||To enjoy life|
|To be more creative||To loosen up|
|To avoid guilt||To be friendly|
|Because it’s a tradition||To celebrate|
|To organize thoughts||To be liked|
|Because it’s easy to get||To meet people|
|Feel more intelligent||Because others do it|
Do not stop drinking without being under the care and supervision of Medical Doctor MD.
Never try to quit “cold turkey”, it can fatal.
Find a medically supervised detoxification. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a set of symptoms observed in persons who stop drinking alcohol following heavy consumption. Milder forms of the syndrome include tremulousness, seizures, and hallucinations, typically occurring within 6-48 hours after the last drink. A more serious syndrome, delirium tremens (DTs), involves profound confusion, hallucinations, and severe autonomic nervous system activity. If someone does go into delirium tremens, mortality without treatment is between 15% and 40%.
21 Benefits of Quitting
Here’s a list of positive, life-enhancing things that happen to anyone who stops drinking alcoholic beverages. They may not apply to everyone.
- No More Hangovers
- Lose Fear of DUI Arrest
- Stop” Wasting” Money Drinking
- People Stop Nagging You About It
- No More Regrets and Remorse
- Reduce “Junk Food” Intake
- Enjoy More Free Time
- No More Running to the Store
- No Post-Drinking Incidents
- Stop Destroying Brain Cells
- Consume Less Empty Calories
- Probably Live Much Longer
- Make Cool New Sober Friends
- Sleep Much Better
- Break Out of Drinking “Rut”
- Avoid the 2nd Hand Smoke
- Feel Like a Winner
- Accomplish Something Good
- Stop Wasting Time Just Drinking
- Feel Much Better Physically
- Experience a New Freedom
Essentially, your brain is addicted to the “feel-good” neurotransmitters that are associated with drinking. When you decide to stop drinking, it naturally responds in a very negative manner. In fact, the alcoholic brain responds so powerfully that you won’t be able resist its demand for alcohol, without help.
Quitting drinking can mean confronting painful emotions, traumatic memories and the stark reality of “life without booze”. Complicating these psyche issues is the fact that alcoholism is a complex disease reinforced by strong chemical and structural changes occurring in the brain.
Health Reasons for Kicking Booze
Heavy drinking takes its toll. The human body gradually loses its’ ability to tolerate liquor.
Liver disease affects 4 out of 10 alcoholics in various stages of severity. At least one of those four suffering liver disease or cirrhosis of the liver will die of the disease or need a liver transplant to continue living. The waiting list for a liver transplant is typically one to two years.
It is possible you may find yourself suffering from renal (kidney) hypertension and renovascular hypertension. These conditions occur when untreated, alcohol-induced, high blood pressure damages arteries to the point they are no longer capable of transporting blood to the kidneys. Also referred to as renal artery stenosis, this type of hypertension emerges from atherosclerosis and narrowing of arteries necessary for normal kidney functioning. Alcoholics diagnosed with renal hypertension may also suffer from stage 2 hypertension due poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, alcoholism and/or drug abuse.
A person who consumes more than two “hard-drinks” (whiskey, vodka, gin or rum) daily, may be in the midst of becoming an “alcoholic“. Beer can also be a problem. Beer does not have as high an alcoholic content as the “hard stuff”. The amount of alcohol in a standard size mixed drink, beer, and glass of wine is the same. It boils down to how often and how much someone drinks, and how it is effecting their life and the life’s of the people around them.
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